With a heart of gold and a coat to match, the Golden Retriever is the golden child of dogdom. A do-it-all dog, the Golden has been one of America's top family dogs for decades.
The Golden start came with the birth of four yellow puppies in a litter between a yellow retriever and a yellow spaniel in 1868. Most retrievers of the day were black, but Lord Tweedmouth developed a yellow strain of retrievers---initially considered a yellow variety of Flat-Coated Retrievers---from these puppies. In 1900 they were recognized as a separate breed.
The first Goldens came to America to hunt, but families quickly discovered they were as good in the home as they were in the field. Retrievers need to be smart, obedient, athletic and playful---traits that also make for a top-rate companion dog, service dog, therapy dog and search and rescue dog.
Goldens excel at obedience, agility, hunting and most of all, playing and loving. Their favorite activities include swimming and fetching, so get a collection of tough toys and start throwing!
Like most large dogs, Goldens can develop joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Feeding a diet formulated for large breed puppies during the first year of life will help decrease the possibility of hip dysplasia, and probably elbow dysplasia. These diets allow the puppy to grow more slowly, while still achieving the same adult size---just a little later. Joint supplements, such as glucosamine chondroitin supplements, should be started immediately for any Golden showing signs of dysplasia, and by four years of age for those without signs.
It's fairly simple to keep that golden coat aglow. Start from the inside out with good nutrition. Consider adding a good multi-vitamin, probiotics and fatty-acid supplement. Brush the coat once or twice weekly with a pin brush. During shedding season, you can also use a slicker brush to remove dead hair.
Many Goldens tend to develop itchy skin. First, be absolutely sure you rinse all shampoo from the coat after bathing, as residual shampoo can lead to itchiness. Better, use an oatmeal-based shampoo that actually leaves a soothing effect on the skin, reducing itching. If your Golden has no problems with itchy skin, you can indulge and use a color-enhancing shampoo that will bring out the gold. If the coat becomes too oily and starts to smell, use a deodorizing shampoo. If your dog swims in chlorinated water, you may want to use a moisturizing shampoo, such as one with an avocado oil base. For special occasions, you can get that show-dog look by blow-drying the longer feathering after bathing---but your dog may take some time to get used to the procedure!
Keep your Golden's ears dry after swimming. Ear cleansers have a drying effect, and can help keep the ears healthy and dry. Certainly if the ears get goopy, clean them with an ear-cleanser. If the goop comes back, see your veterinarian.
Brush the teeth daily.
Use a heavy-duty nail clipper to keep the nails short.
As your Golden ages, he's more likely to be affected by arthritic changes. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him young at heart and in body well into old age.